Member Profile

Anna Marie Sewell

Photo: Pixabay.com

I am a multi-disciplinary artist, principly a writer; as a writer, principly a poet. My work encompasses poetry, prose, theatre and song, and the bulk of my writing has been for performance. My practice also centres around collaboration and community arts.

Current projects include Ancestors & Elders, Borderlines, and preparing for the arrival of a new book of poetry in the fall. So, editing, yes, but also, singing. Go ahead, ask me about Uptown Funk.

Other recent projects include Reconciling Edmonton, a multidisciplinary community history project which continues to tour corporate, educational and public institutions.

I am Edmonton's 4th Poet Laureate (2011-13),& delighted to serve now on the editorial board for Write magazine. 

Phone number:
c/o Writers' Union of Canada

Publications

Fifth World Drum. Frontenac House, 2009
For the Changing Moon: Poems & Songs. Thistledown Press, 2018

Awards

Prince&Princess Edward Prize in Aboriginal Literature for Heart of the Flower (Multi-disciplinary Project), 1999
Eligible for National Public Readings Program :
Yes

WITS

Presentation Description

Poetry presentations are drawn from my books, blogs and ongoing work. Topics include: Indigenous Philosophy, the Natural World and Circle of Relations, Play, Cross-Language Exploration, and more. I sometimes sing, and accompany myself on guitar. 

Creative Non-Fiction presentations touch on the same topics, but via the lens of essay, memoir and storytelling. I also present on the work of community arts and interdisciplinary, collaborative projects. 

All my presentations include acknowledgement that my work is centred in my particular ethnic and political identity, and I incorporate elements of historical and lived cultural perspectives. My mother's Polish culture is patrilineal, thus I belong to my father's people. My father's Anishinabe culture is matrilineal, thus I belong to my mother's people. The Canadian government counts me legally as a member of Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation, that status inherited from my grandfather. I am proud of all my inheritances.

I have built my own family as a mother, to draw in other streams, and as a writer, drawn on the teachings of chosen family from many cultures. The fundamental message of my presentations is that the world is a Great Mystery, and that I am here to celebrate that; if my work serves, it connects audiences to the myriad beauties of the Great Song. (I also strive for non-pomposity, really I do).

 

Presentation Length:
30 minutes to 1 hour
Genre:
Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction
Grades:
7 - 12
Audience size:
negotiable
Workshop Description:

I offer poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction workshops, for groups of 8 - 20 participants, with a focus on Process, Performance, or Process-Editing-Performance. A single workshop may run from 30 - 90 minutes; I also present workshops in series, spread over a few days or weeks, that lead through process, via peer editing, to performance.

All workshops begin with a circle of introduction, in which each participant shares and is acknowledged for the prior knowledge they bring and their specific goals for the workshop. This principle of starting from strengths is drawn from 6 years experience in using Creative Writing to build literacy for adult learners, and 20+ years as an instructor for Youthwrite.

Process workshops focus on writing as an act of attention. Through guided individual and group exercises, we hone our power of paying precise, active attention to the world around us. These exercises include movement meditations (walking or moving as one is able), closing eyes to enhance other senses, and partnered guiding. 

We also examine our common language, collecting words that the group tends to favour, then seeking to expand our pool of available words, phrases and ways of creating writing that describes, connects and engages the audience in fresh ways.

Process workshops thus also include an introduction to peer editing, through sharing, examining, and expanding our toolkit. Most importantly, though, process workshops emphasize the value of considering a writer as a conduit to connect and engage others to what matters in the world.

Performance Workshops focus on the sense that to perform is to serve the gift. The gift is the writing, and we are as blessed to be serving it as the audience is to partake. With that in mind, we set about using our tools - voice, physicality,breath and energy - to celebrate the writing and give it the best presentation possible.

Students are encouraged to bring their own work to share; we often trade pieces, because it is often easier to generously approach someone else's work and find the best in it; witnessing another serving the gift of your writing back to you lets that same generosity reveal your own strengths as a writer in a new light. 

We will also occasionally work from outside texts, in order to illustrate performance techniques without reference to the students' tender new work. Finally, the process of preparing for performance introduces the editorial value of listening to work out loud, which often reveals rough spots that may not be evident in a silent read.

Process-Editing-Performance workshops move, over a longer period of time, through both processes above, with additional time given to the process of peer editing work from page to stage back to the page. 

Throughout all workshops, I bear in mind the wise words of the late, great Walter Kaasa, who admonished poets that, every time we step before an audience, we must prepare ourselves to embody, humbly and joyously, the thought, 'Here I am, you Lucky People.' We are here, after all, to serve the Gift of the Great Song.

 

Northern OAC WITS:
No
One session:
$$
GST:
GST not applicable